My first full day as a Teach for America Corps Member ended less than four hours ago. It started thirteen and a half hours before that. Of the other 159 Corps Members here in Kansas City, I’ve already “bonded” – in whatever way can happen in two days – with a few of them over paperwork, cramped and sticky buses, awkwardly sized towels, and oddly summer-camp-esque moments of Induction. Aside from the fact that Kansas City has pleasantly surprised me in almost every way, and that I’ve already found a place with my roommate, things have been incredibly intense. From all of our little talks and lunches and panel discussions, I’ve gathered that the next two years and going to include either lots of crying or bouts of depression or both. Plus the fact that the pressure is on, here’s where the stagehand cues one of those nervous laughs from the audience. Except there is no audience. And the kids who’ll be sitting in front of me in a few weeks time (they feel a lot shorter now than they did 48 hours ago) aren’t laughing. Not even nervously.
Even with the stomach-curling stories that I feel should be making me slightly queasy, I’m beyond ecstatic. Perhaps it’s because from where I’m sitting two years suddenly doesn’t feel like very long at all, but in any case the sense of need for action is unmistakable. It’s a propulsion, almost, and when we’re reading or discussing or hearing stories of these very real children, I can feel it bubble in my veins. I’m going somewhere. I don’t know where, not yet, but that doesn’t bother me right now. For now, the sum total of my thoughts are on today and tomorrow and the next six weeks and becoming someone who can do something tangible in two short years.
The idea of being a teacher, with students and a classroom and lesson plans is all still so very abstract to me. I haven’t quite wrapped my brain around what’s coming next, even though I understand it all at the rational comprehension level. Somehow, I feel like it won’t hit me until after I’ve stood in front of a classroom. The juxtaposition of the camp-like experience that is Induction versus the reality of becoming a teacher isn’t exactly helping, either. But something is going to happen. I’m not sure any of us know what, but I think we all see something coming.
This is after just 36 hours.